propel nation forward
Revolutionary changes have happened during a number of U.S. presidencies.
In fact, it was the Revolutionary War that gave birth to what became the United States of America.
Certainly the War Between the States qualifies as a revolutionary event, along with the Emancipation Proclamation. It solidified Abraham Lincoln's position as a leader and standard-bearer for the office of president.
The advent of Prohibition, Jan. 16, 1920, was a revolutionary event. President Wilson was largely incapacitated at the time, so we'll spare him the credit.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president when Prohibition was repealed. While revolutionary in nature, Prohibition was a dismal failure in practice. Not only did problems with alcohol increase, it provided the foundation for growth of organized crime in the United States.
FDR also gets credit for the next revolution of the 20th century -- the advent of Social Security. The changes that this legislation has wrought are, in today's parlance, "awesome."
Retirement at age 65. A pension for virtually every person who has worked. The political "third rail" that for years has been untouchable by those seeking to change it. Social Security is seen now as a "birthright" -- part of being an American.
Possibly the most revolutionary concept of the 20th century arose during the Eisenhower Administration -- the Interstate Highway System, which marks its 50th anniversary this summer. The final leg of the longest interstate, I90, is complete in Boston. It is now possible to travel more than 3,000 miles, from Seattle to Boston, without a stoplight or stop sign. Of course, you might have to refuel several times by tanker at the side of the road to actually accomplish that.
Inspiration for the interstate highway revolution arose from Eisenhower's experience of seeing German Autobahns on his march to Berlin as commander of allied forces in Europe during World War II. The same wide-laned, limited-access approach to highway building is now found throughout the United States. It literally binds the nation.
Of course there are many other revolutionary developments that have happened outside the realm of government. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford have been joined by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and dozens of others in revolutionizing the daily lives at home and at work for people the world over.
All revolutions aren't created equally. All revolutions aren't clearly good nor bad. In fact, revolutionary change invariably finds winners and losers. However, the world in which we live is what it is because revolutionary ideas have found popular acceptance.
Sometimes the wrong people are labeled as "revolutionaries." The extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan seek to hold their nations back. Real revolutionaries seek to move their countries ahead.
We're proud of the real revolutionary thinkers and doers who call our) country "home."
Smile -- the whole world
knows you're smiling
Hopefully you're smiling when you approach the ATM machine to get some cash or make a deposit in your bank account.
We've all been told to smile when our picture is being taken. And nearly every bank ATM has a video camera recording whomever it is that dares approach it.
Cameras are increasingly a presence in our lives. It may be that nifty little digital that slips in and out of your pocket. Shucks, it may be your cell phone.
Cameras are part of security systems in all sorts of places. Retailers use them with outstanding results. Results that come from providing evidence of shoplifting or other crimes and results that come from the deterrence factor of letting people know they are being watched so they don't do something stupid.
Dallas High has joined the world in which video surveillance is proving to be worthwhile. It may be a sad commentary on the times but it's also a reasonable response to recent events.
Among such events was the removal of vent covers from the roof of the school one night recently. Even though the activity occurred after hours, the individuals were recognized when the video was reviewed.
That identification was the direct result of a recently installed campus-wide video camera system. It turns out that there actually is a lot of activity at the high school after the doors are shut, the lights are turned off and the staff has gone home.
A tree was sawed down a few weeks ago. No cameras were watching at the time and place, and the lumberjack (or jane) hasn't been found.
However, an MP3 player that was stolen was captured on camera. The identity of the fleet-fingered one was established. Now the player is back where it belongs, and the perpetrator of the theft is very contrite.
While expensive to install, the video system will pay for itself in terms of reduced vandalism and damage to the property.
Secondly, and maybe more importantly, the system's presence should act as a deterrent in stopping criminal activity before it starts. So far the activity around the school, not surprisingly, is overwhelmingly that of young people -- even when it happens after school hours.
In the 21st century we must assume we are being watched -- because we probably are. As our mothers told us, "Say 'cheese.'"